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How sports affect your body throughout life

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photo: jeff_whiteside
“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristole

Sports become a part of who you are, both mentally and physically.  For children, sports become a means of socialization, but they also play a prominent factor in the development of movement.  For adults, sports become a means of fitness, stress relief, competition and commonly injury.  No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of young to old, or novice to professional, sports have likely impacted your body in some way.  Appreciating how and to what extent may help you address chronic problems, prevent future ones and likely maximize your performance.

Each sport comes with its own particular set of movement patterns required of its’ athletes.  Dancers have chest up, shoulders down, butt clenched, toes out drilled into them.  Tennis players and golfers spend hours twisting one way and not the other.  Bikers ride hundreds of kilometers with their bodies tucked into a tight aerodynamic position with their head poking up, and runners get used to just going straight forward all the time.  How much these movement experiences will affect you really depends on what stage of your life you do them, how much you do them, and if you also have a variety of other sports you do, or have chosen to specialize and commit to the performance of just one.

Early movement experiences will really mold a child’s posture and coordination later in life, which is why I encourage physical play with my kids.  Activities like chase, wrestling, rolling, jumping, throwing and catching really help kids build an awareness of how to use their bodies.  They get some bumps and bruises along the way, but it helps them learn that pain is temporary and that their bodies are really amazing at healing themselves if they give them a chance.  As a physiotherapist, I can quickly tell the difference between adults that have a physical, athletic history and ones that have lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, both in their body awareness and their outlook on their current pain or dysfunction.  Past athletes tend to have a more optimistic and in-control attitude about their rehabilitation because they have relationships with their bodies due to past experience.  Conversely, adults that haven’t competed in sports in their youth tend to be much less assertive in their healing and much more dependent on health professionals because they are less in tune with their bodies.

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Golf: The fundamentals of movement

Austin's
Movement is a skill and skill is the key component to strength.  If you learn to move well, you will build functional strength.  If you spend time trying to get stronger and ignore movement, you will likely get functionally weaker and be prone to hurting yourself.

Golf is a game about finely controlled movement and cognitive management; two things that elude and frustrate people their whole lives, which is why golf can be so addictive.  How a person approaches a golf game reflects a lot about their personality and their physical body, and both factors tend to contribute to their consistency, power, form and ultimately the number on the scorecard after 18 holes.  It also has a lot to do with how sore they may be during or after a round.

Rotation is the obvious movement pattern that golfers need to master, but it is only one of three movement planes that exist in the golf swing and it is by far the most complex.  It is a mistake to try and address anything to do with rotation until you learn how to move in the forward-back and side-to-side planes first.  I tell my clients that they need to earn the right to rotate by first learning to squat properly and load their legs well.  You would be surprised just how poorly most people bend or squat down, but it is a key part of the address position in a golf swing.

Step 1: Learn where your hips actually are (see video playlist at bottom of post):
–    4 Point Neutral Spine Video
–    4 Point Rock backs Video

In order for your trunk to be able to rotate properly, you need the muscles in your back to be reasonably relaxed because they need to lengthen as your body turns.  The way most people bend or squat ends up creating way too much tension in their back and butt to allow them to freely rotate their trunk. 

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